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This spring, for the second year in a row, Harvard sided with management and refused to support the proxy resolution introduced by the Campaign to Make GM Responsible.
The Harvard Corporation announced on May 17 that it would vote its 288, 610 GM shares, worth $17,901, 940, against the first two Campaign GM proposals. Harvard abstained on the third proposal.
The Corporation also opposed a resolution introduced by the Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church, calling for General Motors to wind up operations in the Republic of South Africa.
All of the proposals were defeated at the GM annual meeting on May 21.
Proposal One would have permitted 100 stockholders or the owners of 1500 shares to nominate by petition a candidate for the Board of Directors. A maximum of 30 candidates could be nominated by this process, and their names and 100-word platforms would be listed on the proxy statement along side the management slate.
Proposal Two would allow the constituent groups of employees, consumers and dealers each nominate a candidate for the Board.
Proposal Three would require General Motors to publish specific data on its policies regarding auto safety, minority hiring and pollution control.
In a statement released after the Corporation meeting, President Pusey said that although the Corporation favors "the principle of having a nomination process which will insure obtaining the best qualified individuals as corporate directors," it voted against Proposal One because it felt the suggested mechanism would be "cumbersome and unrealistic."
Harvard abstained on Proposal Three, Pusey said, to express its "endorsement in principle and doubts as to detail."
On the South Africa resolution, Pusey said the Corporation would have voted affirmative "if we had thought it would make a significant contribution in the elimination of apartheid in the Republic of South Africa; but since we had no information it would, and since it seems certain it would work hardship on the employees affected, we decided to oppose this proposal."
Commenting on the decision, George F. Bennett '33 said that GM had created jobs for blacks as well as for whites in South Africa. "For GM to shut down would put a lot of blacks out of work," he said.
Although Bennett agreed that blacks generally occupy more menial positions than whites in South Africa, he said, "If you were a black down there, would you rather have no job or a job not as good as a white man's?"
Reacting to the decisions, Michael A. Levett, coordinator of Campaign GM, said, "They're supporting us in principle and GM in fact. Some day someone is going to convince Harvard that if they believe in something in principle they should do it in fact."
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